Unity On Display at Philly Golf Alliance PLAY9 Day September 12, 2016 | Huntingdon Valley, Pa. By Dan Scofield

Members of the Philadelphia Golf Alliance found that nine holes was a great way to talk business while enjoying the game they all love. (Dan Scofield)

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The unity of the game is strong in Philadelphia.

Coinciding with the USGA’s PLAY9 Day on Sept. 9, Philadelphia Golf Alliance leaders met under pleasant skies at Huntingdon Valley (Pa.) Country Club to discuss the current state of the game in a social-friendly playing format.

“Everyone is always busy during the season, so we’ve made it a point to get together a few times a year. We threw the idea out there, this time around, to plan it during the USGA’s Play9 Day to correspond with their great initiative,” said Bob Morey, Golf Association of Philadelphia (GAP) president.

Members of organizations far and wide traveled to Huntingdon Valley, a founding member club of GAP that started as a nine-hole course in 1897.

“To bring camaraderie to the groups, and an understanding of who everyone is in these leadership roles, it’s a great way to understand what everyone does,” said Ian Dalzell, head professional at Huntingdon Valley and president of the Philadelphia Section of the PGA. “It’s a great avenue for us, in a relaxed environment. We’re playing golf, and there is a little less stress playing nine. I think it’s tremendous. It’s a little more of what we should be doing in the industry.”

Alliance members networked and strategized over golf and lunch. The biggest focus of the day, from all perspectives, wasn’t hard to decipher.

“We were talking about the nine-hole idea on the course,” said Laura Hammond, executive director of the Women’s Golf Association of Philadelphia. “From a woman’s standpoint, there are many more pressures these days: jobs, families, etc. PLAY9 encourages them to spend an hour and a half to get out on the course, rather than four hours, and it makes the game more accessible to them and less intimidating. It becomes more enjoyable for a lot of people, too.”

Morey agrees that nine-hole rounds allows for more options to get people involved in the game.

“Anything we can do to get people to come out and play is good for the game. Some say it takes too long to play 18 holes, so playing nine is an option nowadays,” said Morey, a Merion Golf Club member and one of the driving forces behind the Alliance’s formation. “A lot of clubs in our area have started to do events surrounding that idea. I know [Merion] has a bunch of events, where it’s just nine holes, and it’s paired with things like dinner, cocktails and things of that nature. That opens it up to everyone, not just the fanatical golfers.”

Dalzell says that out of 430 members at Huntingdon Valley, only “an estimated 20 percent of players compete regularly in GAP events and outside tournaments.” He believes events like PLAY9 Days can go a long way in getting that other 80 percent on the golf course.

“In talking to other golf pros around the country, the social aspect is really kicking off,” said Dalzell. “I do think that anything our Alliance and clubs can do to help grow awareness will only benefit us in the future.”

Dan Scofield is the assistant communications director for the Golf Association of Philadelphia.

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